So last night we got the second to last episode… ever… of Breaking Bad. And it was, in my opinion, after Vince Gilligan squeezed our hearts and minds into a bloody pulp through ‘Ozymandias’ last week, like a nice deep breath… which we’ll probably need as I anticipate most of us will find that we’re forgetting to breathe during the series finale.
Now that’s not to say that this week’s episode wasn’t as amazing as any others this season, but other than Jesse and Flynn there was little emotional devastation wrought by GIlligan and Co., and that’s ok, in fact it’s well done, and as I go through this post I think you’ll see why.
The episode opens at, go figure an actual vacuum store. Saul’s guy who helps people disappear (Ed), is helping Saul disappear. Saul gets a new ID, is told he’ll be moving to Nebraska, and that as he waits to leave he’ll have a “bunk mate”.
Saul knows he means Walter and asks “Oh yeah, is *he* still here?”, and wants to know how Walter is “holding up”, Ed tells Saul to “be the judge”. Saul is then directed to a monitor showing CCTV of another room, with a noticeably stir-crazy and frustrated Walter.
The next scene opens with Marie in a federal vehicle being driven home, she’s barely listening as the officer is telling her that eventually they’ll find Hank and Gomez. As they get to the house though, it’s immediately evident that someone has broken in, two agents jump out to investigate, while the driver turns around and speeds off with Marie.
We don’t have to ponder who broke into the house. It was Jack and his crew. Back at their place their watching Jesse’s confession to Hank (doesn’t that feel like a million years ago?). They even watch through Jesse explaining what happened to Drew Sharp (now that Jack has the confession, I’m fairly sad at the fact that as Marie will never find out where Hank is, Drew Sharp’s parents will never get closure or answers). At this point Jack has heard enough, and is ready to go out and get rid of Jesse. Once again Todd steps in, talking about the fact that with Jesse the purity went way up, and even when Jack reminds him that they’ve got millions now, and don’t need to cook, Todd still insists on keeping Jesse alive for more meth. Jack realizes that this is all about Todd’s crush on Lydia, but backs off, and Jesse is saved yet again.
Back at the vacuum store, as Saul is waiting to be able to be transported to his new life in Nebraska (quite symbolically), Walter is leaning on his barrel of money to write down details about mercenaries he’s going to need Saul to get in touch with so that they can go hit Jack and get his money back. Saul tries to explain to him how things are over, and how even with the phone call that Walt staged was good, but until the feds have Walt they’ll keep the pressure on Skyler, and that they’ll never be able to see a cent of the money Walt earned, reminding him of Mike’s attempts to get money to his granddaughter and how it was repeatedly seized. Saul brings up how little time Walt has left , and that if he were arrested now he’d probably die before ever being convicted. Saul tells Walt that the best thing for his family would be to “Stay and face the music”. At this point Ed comes in and tells Saul he’s good to go, but Walt says he isn’t going anywhere, so Ed gives them a minute. However, Walt won’t hear any of it. He backs Saul up against the wall just like he did before reminding him that “It’s over when I say – ” and Walt is cut off by his own coughing. Saul get’s his suitcase, says “It’s over.”, and leaves. At this point We all know it’s over, why doesn’t Walt? It’s gotten sad at this point, his refusal to give in.
Cut to Skyler, she’s sitting across the table from who we assume are federal agents. And everything is white noise, the men are speaking, and it’s muffled, we can tell she’s not present. Finally one of the agents asks “Is she even listening?”. Skyler seems to snap out of it and says “I understand. I”m in a lot of trouble. I understand you will use everything in your power against me and my children to get Walt. But I can’t give you what you want, because I don’t know where where he is.” The entire scene mirrors when Walter first received his cancer diagnosis from his doctor, it was all white noise but when prompted, Walt had heard it all. Can I just say here that this kind of amazing storytelling is why I LOVE this show! Also I have mixed feelings for Skyler, I feel bad that Walt has left her high and dry, but at the same time, she was never the “blameless victim” he tried to paint her as with that phone call.
That night we see a car with two officers outside the White house watching it, radioing in that there’s no movement. Skyler is inside having a smoke, observing the officers. The house is silent and she is so very alone. She gets up to go and check on Holly, as she hears her start to cry in down the hall. As she gets into the nursery though, she sees three men in all black with masks standing around Holly’s crib, and one comes up behind her covering her mouth. Once they’re sure no one else is there, and that she won’t scream, they uncover her mouth so that she can answer a few questions. They’re specifically about if she’s said anything about the “lady at the car wash” (referring of course to Lydia). She tells them no, and they threaten to come back if she ever does say anything about her, or their little visit in the middle of the night. This was a rough scene to watch, even Skyler’s biggest haters had to feel SOME degree of sympathy for her.
Speaking of Lydia she goes to meet Todd, and she’s finally successful at telling one of her contacts to speak to her back to back… which is WAY more suspicious than just meeting and speaking to someone… just saying. Anyway Todd tells her that he went to the “White’s house” (there he goes, being an idiot and dropping names again) and that he thinks that the “message was received, loud and clear”. Lydia isn’t satisfied with just sending a message though, and isn’t happy with all of the investigations going on, and when Todd mentions he has meth to move, she tells him she can’t help, until he mentions that it’s now at 92%. She refers to this a “Heisenberg level”. Todd tells her that he’s got Pinkman, and Lydia is obviously intrigued at continuing to make this business arrangement work
Next we see Walt climbing out of a transport trucks propane tank. I’ll never be able to watch one of those on the highway now without pondering if there’s a person in there. He’s at a quaint little cabin (pictured at the top of this blog). Which if you asks me looks like the “Smoking Man’s” cabin from the X- Files (another Gilligan show) They go in and Ed is going over the basics, like the propane, the wood burning stove, and that there’s not really any TV, so he’s left with DVD’s (of which there are two copies of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium… and if you’re looking for connections this Article by Salon may help connect some dots… like a certain quote about how at the end of King Lear “He dies.”). When Walt asks about using a phone Ed tells him there isn’t one (storms mean phone lines go down, which means service calls, which means he’d be seen). Same with internet, cable, etc.
When Walt asks whats to stop him “going out the gate”, Ed tells him that his job is to keep Walt safe, but if Walt wants to go, there’s nothing he can do to stop him. He tells him he’ll be back in a month with more food. Shortly after he leaves, Walt gets dressed, including his Heisenberg hat and walks all the way down to the gate, looks down the snowy road before him, opens it, then pauses and says the words: “Tomorrow, tomorrow”, before locking the gate back up and turning around.
Next we see Jesse, who we saw working earlier with a paper clip has been able to unlock his cuffs and is standing on top of everything, trying to reach the bars above, he drops though when he hears Todd coming. Todd’s come to thank him for the last cook being at 96% and sends down some ice cream. Before Todd leaves, Jesse asks if tonight he’ll leave the tarp off so that he can see the stars, and Todd obliges.
That night Jesse is able to get out, by jumping from his tower of stuff, reaching and then unlatching the door. He runs to get away, but doesn’t see the camera outside. As he’s trying to climb the fence he hears Jack’s guys run up behind him. He tells them that they might as well just kill him, “because there’s no way [he’s] doing one more cook!” Unfortunately rather than kill Jesse they decide to remind him of the kind of leverage they have over him.
The next scene is Todd at Andrea’s, he says he’s a friend of Jesse’s and then tells her that Jesse is there in a truck parked across the street. When she steps outside to see the truck (which has tinted windows), Todd steps behind, pulls his gun, tells her this isn’t “personal” and then pulls the trigger.
Approximately one month later Walter has a beard, and Ed is back at the cabin. He’s brought Walter a stack of newspapers, food (including some Ensure that he says will help Walt keep some of weight on). As Walt skims through the papers (using some random prescription glasses Ed brought) Ed updates him on what’s been going on back in ABQ. This includes that Skyler, who still has the kids, is using her maiden name and working at a taxi dispatch office. According to Ed her “public defender… looks like a deer in the headlights”. Ed also brings him up to speed that there’s now a fence around the house because of vandals. He’s also brought an IV of chemotherapy, Walt offers to put the needle in, and can’t so Ed slips it in. Ed gets ready to head out, and Walt offers him ten thousand to stay for two hours. Ed agrees to stay for 1, and play cards. Then Walt says “One of these days when you come up here, I’ll be dead.. my money over there, what happens to it then, what if I ask you to give it to my family, would you do it?”. Ed replies “If I said yes, would you believe me?”. Walt is clearly depressed at this, and says nothing.
That night as Walt sleeps his wedding ring slips off, and falls to the floor (reminding us of how much weight he’s lost), he wakes, tries putting it back on, noting how it slides off. He uses some string to tie it around his neck.
He then looks at the boxes of Ensure. He goes to them, empties them and puts money in. We see him next bundled up, with the box wrapped in brown paper, and tied with a string.
We then see Walt Jr. in school, he’s called to the office and that his aunt Marie is on the phone. It’s not Marie though. Walt paid a woman in a bar to use a payphone. Once Jr. is on Walt starts speaking, telling Jr. how he “never intended” things to be the way they are. He then asks Jr. if his friend Louis still lives at the same address. Flynn tells him yes, and Walt tries to explain that he’ll be sending a box of money ($100,000.00), to Louis, but that it’s for Jr. Flynn flips out at the mention of money shouting “YOU KILLED UNCLE HANK!” along with a few other things, and then shouting “WHY ARE YOU STILL ALIVE!!!”. Flynn hangs up.
Walt is devastated. He then makes another call to the ABQ DEA office. He asks to speak to the agent in charge of the Walter White investigation. When asked who’s calling he replies “Walter White”, then drops the phone leaving it hanging.
We see him sit down and order a whiskey. As the guy at the bar flips through channels, Walt asks him to stop and go back to one. It’s an interview with Gretchen and Elliot (his long ago partners of Gray Matter), and they’re working very hard to distance themselves from the fact that one of their company’s founders became a meth kingpin.
Next we see sheriffs pull up and go into the bar… but this is all they find:
A couple of notes before next week:
First, my theory on Walt getting the ricin, that he got it for himself, he will take it, and then turn himself in, knowing he only has a few days to live, getting Skyler off the hook, and not spending anytime in jail, after all, at this point how would he be able to slip it to anyone?
Now the confirmation of the phone call being a deliberate act, which the fans caught shows how in tune the writers are with this show, and their viewers. Keep in mind how long ago these episodes were filmed. This Forbes article addresses how divided people were on it http://www.forbes.com/sites/allenstjohn/2013/09/19/walter-whites-phone-call-on-breaking-bad-514-what-you-caught-and-the-critics-missed%E2%80%A8including-me/
Going back to the Forbes article on the phone call, I believe it fully supports and leads into my mentioning of another Forbes article http://www.forbes.com/sites/allenstjohn/2013/09/16/why-breaking-bad-is-the-best-show-ever-and-why-that-matters/2/ and the fact that like the phone call Vince Gilligan knew what he was having Walter do, and like Jack killing Hank, or Todd killing Andrea, Gilligan’s mind is made up. Next week Monday that as Allen St. John points out “The water cooler conversation after the finale airs on September 29 will be dominated not by head- scratching analysis, but by slack-jawed awe”. Gilligan is going to perfectly punctuate things. We will get a conclusion. that’s it. Period. Or maybe, Exclamation Point… maybe, but certainly not Question Mark.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment below!